Podcast

Inside Ghana Gold, MIA’s new bean-to-bar line

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: MIA
Pic: MIA

Related tags: MIA, Ghana

MIA, short for Made in Africa, is branching out from its base in Madagascar to work with cocoa farmers in West Africa. Co-founder Brett Beach tells ConfectioneryNews the reasons behind the move – and also provides an update on the situation on the island and for the sector in general.

MIA not only creates award-winning, premium chocolate with locally sourced ingredients, it works with communities mainly in Madagascar to support skilled jobs, keeping the production of chocolate on the island, creating more jobs for not only cocoa farmers but in chocolate making to printing to the service industry.

As a bean-to-bar company, MIA is able to create four times more value than simply exporting the Madagascar's raw cocoa and it also supports community development projects including adult literacy and conservation, under its under its 1 for Change ​giveback programme.

MIA_Brett-Beach

We’re honoured to collaborate with Proudly Made in Africa to ensure that products aren’t just made in Africa, but are primarily done so with locally sourced ingredients and materials, creating more jobs on a continent where a single income can support an entire family -- ​Brett Beach co-founder, MIA

Not only has Madagascar suffered through two years of the pandemic, but it has also been affected by serious drought and famine on the southern part of the island, causing severe hardship for a country that is classed as among the world’s poorest.  MIA responded by supporting development projects with its 1 for Change ​programme to combat COVID-19, provide famine relief.

MIA co-founder couple Brett Beach and Sarah Lescrauwaet have approximately 15 years in the confectioneryindustry and have been involved in Madagascar for seven of those years. In our podcast with Brett, he talks more about MIA’s origins and the challenges and pleasures of establishing a chocolate brand in a remote part of the world.

While its focus remains on the island of Madagascar, the brand is branching out to other parts of Africa, particularly Ghana, where it will launch a new product, Ghana Gold, a new bean-to-bar line, later this year.

We’re honoured to collaborate with Proudly Made in Africa - our supply chain partner - to ensure that products aren’t just made in Africa, but are primarily done so with locally sourced ingredients and materials, creating more jobs on a continent where a single income can support an entire family​,” he says.

In our podcast interview, Brett says he sees Ghana Gold as a value addition to MIA’s message and continues the tradition of supporting jobs beyond cocoa beans in Africa. ​He explains to ConfectioneryNews how the brand partnered with a local factory to develop Ghana Gold, along with a cocoa farming cooperative.

 “The chocolate making team has been crucial in bringing Ghana Gold to life. From an understanding of the cocoa farming landscape to chocolate making know-how and technical expertise, the team at Niche Confectionery, the MIA production partner, is living proof that Ghana can make chocolates on par with the world’s best.” 

abocfa members cracking pods_crop
Farmer members of ABOCFA cooperative gather on John Adamnor’s farm to help break open cocoa pods. Pic: MIA

Brett says MIA’s goal was always to expand beyond one country and work with other communities on the continent. With the help and guidance of African cocoa expert Dr Kristy Leissle (who is also a member of CN’s editorial board and a frequent contributor to this website), the company chose to work with ABOCFA, a Fairtrade and organic cooperative, to produce Ghana Gold.

The cocoa for Ghana will come under the Fairtrade certification, says Brett. It was an important consideration because in West Africa there are different challenges in the cocoa sector, such as child labour and slave labour.

We were really impressed by the transparency at ABOCFA and their tracking of farmers to prevent issues around deforestation or even the cross-trading of cocoa that can happen if a cooperative doesn’t have a good understanding of its farmers​.

 “While we're not making an organic product, it's really exciting to buy organic cocoa because we discovered in our interviews with the farmers that a lot of them couldn't grow secondary crops, important to feed their family, when they used pesticides. When they switch to organic, it really helped their livelihoods outside of the cocoa business. These are all considerations that you learn about when you dig in with the farmers​.”

Brett says MIA plans to launch Ghana Gold in Q2 and expects it to be on the market in the third quarter of this year.

He tells ConfectioneryNews he hopes to visit the production sites in Ghana in May – and also get back to Madagascar as soon as possible, now that Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifting across the globe.

  • To hear more on MIA​ and how a small, independent chocolate company can make a big difference to cocoa farmers lives, listen to our podcast interview with Brett.

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